A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) revealed that American children may not be getting enough sleep because of electronic devices in their bedrooms.
The survey asked over 1,100 parents to estimate on average how many hours their children sleep every night, each child being between the ages of six and 17. The children were divided into four age groups based on the following-those who were six to 10, 11 to 12, 13 to 14 and 15 to 17.
The survey found that 6- to 10-year-olds are averaging about 8.9 hours of sleep on school nights – hours less than the 10 to 11 they should be getting – and older kids get even less sleep, with 15- to 17-year-olds reporting just 7.1 hours of sleep per night. That age group should be getting 9.25 hours of sleep every night.
“For children, a good night’s sleep is essential to health, development and performance in school,” said Kristen Knutson, Ph.D., National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll scholar who is at the University of Chicago. “We found that when parents take action to protect their children’s sleep, their children sleep better.”
The survey from the National Sleep Foundation was released on Monday, and shows that 89 percent of adults and 75 percent of children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms, most commonly a television. And more than a third of parents and kids said they sometimes left some sort of electronic on at night, like a TV, tablet or smartphone or an iPod or other music player.
The kids that have these type of devices in their bedrooms and leave them on at night will sleep less than kids who turn them off, or didn’t have them in their rooms at all, said Knutson.
“Light will disturb your sleep — so looking at a screen is going to make it harder for them to sleep. Noise will disturb your sleep especially if it’s left on,” Knutson says. “And also these really, the more interactive devices, like video games or their tablets, are mentally stimulating. And so that’s also going to make it harder for them to go to sleep once they finally try. And it’s a distraction, so they’re just staying awake later because they’re playing with their devices.”
“To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime,” said Orfeu Buxton, PhD, Harvard Medical School.
“The modern family is more connected and busier than ever, making parenting a more daunting challenge than it ever has been,” said Helene A. Emsellem, MD, The Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders and George Washington University Medical Center. “Electronics are prevalent in American homes, so it is important for parents to have a family strategy. Be vigilant about your children’s electronics use in the bedroom, set sleep times and talk to your children about the importance of sleep.”
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